Jax Food Truck Vendors Oppose Proposed Legislation

Feb 25, 2014

The Smoke it Up Barbeque truck sits in the Federal Credit Union Parking lot on Park Street in Jacksonville.
Credit Kevin Meerschaert / WJCT

A bill being drafted for the Jacksonville City Council has food truck vendors concerned the legislation could put them out of businesses.

The bill would establish regulations for operating a food truck in Jacksonville.

The draft legislation establishes places food trucks cannot operate—for instance, residential neighborhoods and also outlines where the trucks are able to park.

But vendors say it would be impossible to comply with some of the regulations.

Kelhan Stephenson operates the Smoke It Up Barbeque Kitchen food truck.

From the parking lot of the Federal Credit Union at Park and Roselle he was feeding some of the area’s lunchtime crowd.

He said some of the included regulations like providing bathrooms make no sense and only hinder the food truck’s efforts.

"It seems like they don't want a lot of us here. They don't want us setting up," he said. "It's not even the side of the road, nearly all of us are into private events now, we're using private lots like this so we have to get land owner rights. So we've worked our way through a lot of issues at hand that they've already thrown at us, and now this is kind of a second round."

Councilman Reggie Brown is proposing the legislation. He’s holding a meeting Wednesday afternoon at 3:00 pm in Council Chambers at city hall to discuss the draft-ordinance.

At last night's City Council meeting Brown said he has no intention of closing down any legitimate food truck operations. He says the draft legislation is just a starting point to set guidelines so that food trucks and brick and mortar eating establishments are on the same playing field.

Brown said he has seen some operations passing themselves off as food trucks in the same location for days or weeks at a time, without any licenses or health department approvals.

Brown said the introduction of a bill could be three months away and in the meantime he wants to work with food truck vendors to come up with regulations that are fair and protect  public health and safety.

He said he welcomes all interested parties to come to Wednesday's meeting and voice their concerns. 

You can follow Kevin Meerschaert on Twitter @KMeerschaertJax.